Criminal Minds fans were rocked by the news over the summer, and now the time has come for a member of the BAU family to move on. The episode opens with JJ (AJ Cook) being offered another job at the Pentagon – a major promotion – but saying the BAU is where she belongs as she discusses it with SSA Hotchner and his superior, Erin Strauss. She valiantly fights moving on from her current position, but we know how that will end. Thankfully, the writers gave her a great sendoff episode.
The team heads off to work on a case of a missing girl named Kate Joyce. Two young men are in police custody, but their stories are consistent and the police can’t get anywhere with them. The case itself was interesting (certainly better than last week’s underwhelming season premiere) as the two even offered to take polygraph tests – and both passed. JJ was the star of the show last week, and was exceptionally strong again this week. She was the one who noticed that Kate’s phone was in the backseat of the car in a photo on one of the suspects’ phones. This seemingly minor detail broke the case open by poking a gaping hole in the story they were being told and is what finally broke the suspects down. Thanks to her, Kate is found clinging to a buoy not far from the approximate spot where she’d been thrown into the water.
Once the case is solved, our focus shifts immediately back to JJ’s impending departure. “She’s a vital member of our team,” Hotchner says to Strauss, fighting to keep JJ on his team. However, there’s nothing he can do. “It’s a done deal,” she responds. “They’re not asking you. They want her back in DC now.”
JJ and Hotchner speak, and he informs her that she’ll be leaving at the end of the week. She says she needs to stay longer so she can train someone to take over for her, but he says that he doesn’t plan to replace her. “We’ll figure it out. I’m hoping I can get you back. I was hoping I could do something about this, and I’m sorry I couldn’t. You’re going to be much better off. I’ll miss you.”
That was only the beginning of the heartfelt goodbyes. I liked the use of Ray LaMontagne’s “Let it Be Me” at the end of the episode. The song helped to set the somber mood for the goodbyes.
“You’re on everybody’s wish list,” said Rossi. “Our loss is somebody else’s gain.”
I think Garcia said it best: “Don’t they understand that we’re a family? That’s why this works; we’re a family.”
The family lost a member in this episode, but it was a nice sendoff. I really thought it was a nice touch that the writers had her character basically be forced into another position, instead of having her leave the team and friends she cares about so much on her own. When JJ was saying goodbye at the end, it felt like AJ Cook was also saying goodbye. The biggest strength of the show has always been the cast. Sure, Thomas Gibson, Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Paget Brewster and Kirsten Vangsness are still around, but for the team (and show) to lose one member is a big deal.
How will the team (and the show) continue to function without JJ? Should the show bring in a new member to take her position? How do you feel about her leaving, and how do you feel about her goodbye episode? We’d love to hear from you in our forum!